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The Power of Writing

This month, two of our group topics of discussion were poetry and free-writing. Writing is a unique and powerful tool for expressing feelings, reflecting upon the past, and considering the possibilities of the future. Though we have discussed the importance of a healthy support system, reflective writing allows women to independently explore their feelings and experiences. Journaling is reported to have many mental health benefits: helping to deal with anxiety and stress while improving feelings of well-being. The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) reports in a 2018 study that participants “exhibited reduced mental distress, anxiety, and perceived stress” when writing about their thoughts and feelings. For the month of April, we will celebrate the power of writing in our monthly newsletter questions.

What is your favorite kind of writing?

  • Journaling – I choose this because I feel it has no rules or guidelines, just go with the flow rhythm of your heart.
  • My favorite kind of writing is books. It’s my favorite because I use books to escape reality. I feel like I am in the story and I love that.
  • Writing lyrics is my favorite form of expression. Lyrics set what’s on my mind and heart onto paper. It’s my own way to practice self-care.
  • Journaling. I like to journal to get all my thoughts and feelings out on paper and be done with it.
    -MSH Residents

If you were a famous, best-selling author, what genre of writing would you specialize in?

  • Biographies and memoirs – I would like to tell a factual story about a person, the way they lived, their attributes, their downfalls.
  • I would write romance novels because I love them and I really just enjoy happy love stories.
  • I would write a poetry book that contains many works of young writers. I feel that it is important to feel as though you have a voice at a young age.
  • True crime. Because I enjoy a good true crime story. I like knowing what goes on.
    -MSH Residents

You are one of the world’s best writers of screenplay. Explain the plot to your next big blockbuster. (Bonus challenge: Have you decided on the actresses/actors?)

  • My next blockbuster would be similar to Under the Dome. We are trapped in a world of dullness and fake people. We must decipher the tree of life to move into the next realm. With Katie Holmes, Audrey Hepburn, Pete Davidson, and Sam Elliot.
  • If I were making a movie it would of course be a real love story about a gay couple who meet in prison and fall in love. They get separated then eventually find their way back to each other. They become successful people and live happily ever after of course. I would pick Angelina Jolie and Megan Fox to be the actresses.
  • The plot to my next big blockbuster will be a woman who ensures that everyone finds their soulmate, even through trial and error. All she has done is watch idly but ends up falling in love with someone meant for somebody else. What is she to do? Heath Ledger would be who she fell in love with.
  • About a person living life. A day in the life of Sarah. Drew Barrymore or Doris Day.
    -MSH Residents

Program Achievements

We have a full house of residents making significant progress in their healing and recovery. The need for our program remains great. Since the start of the new year we have received 76 referrals, with 58 of these referrals meeting our admission criteria.

  • We had a resident GRADUATE and reunite with her 10-year old son.
  • Three residents passed their final portfolio and are candidates for graduation.
  • We welcomed one new resident home this month!
  • One of our residents is celebrating ONE YEAR at MSH.
  • One of our residents purchased a truck and is so excited!
  • One of our residents is training to be a Veterinary Assistant.
  • Several residents went to a recovery conference in Eureka Springs.
  • Sophia, our Peer Recovery Specialist, represented MSH at the Arkansas Specialty Courts Conference.

New Resident Book Club

This semester we welcomed Heathermarie Moats, a Doctoral Student from the English Department at the University of Arkansas, to our stellar intern team! She leads a weekly book club with our residents and it has been a huge success. You can read more below about Heather’s experience leading the first official MSH book club!

As I conclude my all-to-brief internship with Magdalene Serenity House, I cannot help but reflect on the success of a book club. Like all new things it started a bit rough. My first Arkansas winter and naturally, the weather didn’t cooperate with my plans. These intermittent delays initially made getting acquainted difficult, but we muddled through January and our first book, finding a groove that worked for us.

The idea of a book club came to me when listening to April energetically discuss the mission of MSH at a presentation for internship opportunities for students at University of Arkansas. I just knew this was something I wanted to be involved with and what better than sharing my love of reading with other women? We spent 3-4 weeks on each book with each week free-flowing conversation about anything in the book, especially speculation on motives.

Our first novel was Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich. The conversation focused mostly on the characters and a few plot twists as well as a lack of romance for the lead characters. The consensus is to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys light-hearted books with a touch of magic; most of the women would recommend to young adults as there is nothing overtly offensive.

Our second novel, Verity by Colleen Hoover, was enjoyed by all except me. The plot twists were unique, and we dissected the ending, looking back for any clues along the way. This author normally writes romance, and this was her first crime novel which did bring up some glaring issues within the novel. No spoilers, though it is recommended to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

Our third novel, The Lasts Flight by Julie Clark, is another psychological thriller. Again, nearly everyone enjoyed this book, and the discussions were easy to maintain. Much like Verity, this book is told from two perspectives and there are twists, but it was different than the previous book in motivation of the characters. Overall, another book we would recommend.

Despite my internship ending, I will continue as a volunteer with the book club. I look forward to reading and discussing more books with these women as their insight into character motivation and choices has been rewarding.

-Heathermarie Moats, MSH Intern

The Smokehouse Players Benefit Raised more than $10,000!

Thanks to those who attended the April 7th benefit performance of “Love Letters” by The Smokehouse Players, and our match donors, we raised more than $10,000 to support the women of Magdalene Serenity House.

The story of Andrew and Melissa’s 50-year relationship, told through the exchange of letters, was brilliantly performed by Tim Gilster and Terry Vaughan and was directed by Warren Rosenaur! It drew much laughter and also tears to the audience.

A big thank you to our match donors, the Smokehouse Players, and Frank Sharp – owner of The Ozark Mountain Smokehouse for making this possible. Match donors were Christine Lubeck Klinger, Bob and Linda McMath, Carolyn and Nick Cole, Donna and Jim Meinecke, Kathy and Lowell Grisham, and Dick and Margaret Rutherford. We are also grateful for the media groups who helped promote the event, including, KUAF, KNWA, and NWA Democrat Gazette!

The Smokehouse Players are planning the NWA Playwrights Festival June 14-19 and the make-up benefit performance of the canceled show from 2020 – “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”- on November 10th. If you would like to be a Match Donor for an upcoming production, please let us know.

Gifts were Doubled, making NWA Gives Day a Huge Success!

For NWA Gives Day, our goal was to raise funds for the appliances package for our second property – The Aftercare House. Thanks to the generosity of these generous supporters, gifts made on NWA Gives Day were doubled and more than $14,000 was raised!

Lowell and Kathy Grisham
David and Jane Gearhart
Kristine and Trent Palmer
Joel and Lynn Carver
Dash Goff
Hayden McIlroy
Anonymous Donor

We cannot wait to fully renovate our Aftercare Property to provide safe, affordable housing for our program graduates!

Ways YOU can support the women of Magdalene Serenity House

1. Visit to make your one-time contribution or set up your monthly recurring contributions.

2. Start your shopping from the Amazon Smile and designate a percentage of your dollars spent to MSH.

3. Purchase items from our Amazon Wish List that our residents and graduates currently need and have them shipped directly to us.

4. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

5. Help us spread the word about how we are Healing a Community! Host us to be a presenter at your company or community group.

Special Thanks

  • The women from Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Arkansas for hosting a drive to collect paper products for the house.
  • The Fayetteville Chamber Leadership Class Volunteers who planted flowers and spread mulch to help beautify our property for Spring.
  • United Way of NWA and the Live United Volunteers who came and provided yard maintenance.
  • Christine Lubeck Klinger and Christine Haller for purchasing and delivering items for groups to perform service projects on the property including mulch, shovels, and beautiful plants.
  • The Arkansas Traveler for providing an inspirational Nonprofit Spotlight about our program’s impact.
  • Journalist Kristen Fite for posting an enlightening article about the power of Peer Recovery Support Specialists in the recovery journey.
  • Walmart Supercenter #359 Mall Avenue for providing eight Walmart gift cards to support our residents as they are rebuilding their lives.
  • The U of A Hospital Helpers for collecting much needed health and hygiene products for our residents.
  • The Fayetteville Newcomers Club for offering a delicious meal for our residents and staff.